On my office door is a reproduction of a famous icon by Andrei Rublev called the Hospitality of Abraham. It depicts the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah told of in Genesis 18. Christian tradition has long seen in this ancient story an image of the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons. What the image expresses is the fundamentally relational nature of God. Within the very heart of God is an eternal giving and receiving of love. Abraham experiences this God when he reaches out in hospitality to three strangers on the road. In that spiritual embrace of the other he discovers blessing: the promise renewed. By keeping that image on my office door and close to my desk I hope to remind myself and others that all ministry is hospitality, as I wrote about in last month’s newsletter.
As winter abruptly gave way to summer this year I began to think of another form of hospitality that becomes important to many of us in the summer months: Sabbath. Holidays.
Holidays are literally “holy days.” They are times of rest, relaxation and renewal. We might travel to another place where there are fewer of the distractions of modern life. We might take time for activities that feed our souls that we don’t get to do as much while we’re working. We often find ways to commune with nature in beautiful outdoor places. We might take advantage of the time to renovate our houses or beautify our lives. On our holidays we like to find special ways to spend time with friends and family members.
All the various things we like to do in our holidays are holy activities. Holy because they help us build relationships. Holy because through them we honour our creator. Holy because they renew our souls. To holiday (as a verb) is to set aside a certain period of time as holy and reserved for holy activities. It is very much like what the Bible calls “keeping the Sabbath.”
Holidaying is a form of hospitality… to one’s self. As we take time to re-create and renew our souls we offer hospitality to that part of our selves that can sometimes be forgotten in the midst of the other demands of work and life. We make a space for our own hearts and souls so they can be refreshed by the things that make for the abundant life.
Aside from my personal holidays this summer, I hope to shift ministry from programs to people. Taking more time to connect with the members of Hope will be a kind of holiday with the ministry – a time of Sabbath connection-building.
May your summer be filled with holy days of recreation and renewal, and may you be built up in the love of the Holy Trinity, one God who has welcomed us into abundant life.
(A reflection piece for the Hope Anchor, Summer 2018 Edition)